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Sprinting Out of the Gate

Four straight wins broadside Oakland, set up showdown versus Detroit this week.

If the doctor tells you to swallow two pills and call him in the morning, the Twins have swallowed the first pill.  Being able to take out the brooms first thing after the All-Star break is perfect, it's...just what the doctor ordered...har de har har...but all it is is a good opening salvo.  Four quality starts and timely hitting are exactly what the Twins needed to show that they can seperate themselves from the pack, but we've all seen how inconsistent our favorite club can be.

While the Athletics continue as if their tail wing is on fire, Minnesota has to pull from the wake of smoke to focus their crosshairs on the AL Central-leading Tigers.  Detriot, who is better on the road than at home so far in '07, boasts the third-best record in baseball while also fielding one of the game's most complete teams.  As far as I'm concerned the Tigers are the balls, and the Twins will need to prove they have some to keep this little streak of positivity going.

What's Coming

As the team focuses on Detroit for Tuesday, here's a brief look at what's coming for the Twins by the time they get Kansas City at the end of the month.

Opponent   Games   Record
Tigers       3      54-36
Angels       3      55-36
Blue Jays    3      45-46
Indians      3      54-37

This is going to be a rough stretch as even Toronto hasn't been as easily dispatched as we would imagine.  It's time for the Twins to show their teeth.  Taking out the Tigers, specifically, could come down to three points.

  1.  Spot our starters early leads, get ahead of Detroit hitters and force their offense to be aggressive.  Hitters like Granderson, Inge and Monroe are strikeout-prone, while Rodriguez and Thames are allergic to walks and can be defensive at the plate.
  2.  Be patient at the plate, work counts and don't worry about hitting with two strikes.  Both Nate Robertson and Andrew Miller (Monday and Tuesday's starters respectively) have a bit of a Boof Bonser complex going on in that they can rack up a lot of pitches in five or six innings.  Working deep counts and getting their starters into long innings will not only increase the chance they'll throw more mistakes, but it will also get us to Detroit's bullpen faster.  One of baseball's worst closers plus a couple of unproven arms plus no Joel Zumaya equals opportunity.
  3.  NO STUPID MISTAKES.  No making outs on basepaths, no rushing throws that won't get runners anyway, no losing the ball in the beautiful teflon roof, no mis-executed bunts and no fat pitches to Magglio Ordonez.  Right now I believe the Tigers are a more complete team than the Twins, and we won't be able to afford givings things outs.
Don't get me wrong, I know the tone of this post hasn't been the most positive.  It's just time for some tough love.  The Twins should be proud of their 4-0 start in the second half, but there's a long way to go and a lot of business to be taken care of before I can call Minnesota a playoff-ready team.  Shoving feathers up your butt doesn't make you a chicken, and sprinting from the gate doesn't win you a marathon.

Enough with the cliches.  Just take out the damn Tigers.